Friday, September 25, 2020

Leafy suburban paradise roiled by COVID stats

Lee Goodman updates the COVID death toll on his sign in Northbrook


     The media consisted of a camera crew from ABC 7, a helicopter, and me.
     Although I was there in my unofficial capacity. Not as newspaper columnist but as local resident. I had heard the chopper, looked at my phone — 3:57 p.m. — and remembered that at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Lee Goodman would update the number on his sign to 200,000 to reflect how many Americans have died from COVID-19.
     Lee is the sort of fellow no town should be without and, indeed, most towns have one. The local gadfly, or activist — lately I’ve referred to him as “the spoon that stirs the pot.” A retired lawyer, Goodman left the profession to devote his full energies to endeavors such as posting a sign at the busy corner of Shermer and Walters, an area set aside for free expression. It is significant that the other sign, already there, is promoting the annual Lobster Sale at The Episcopal Church of St. James the Less.
     As much as I would like to dive into exploring the identity of St. James the Less — cousin of Jesus, apparently — let’s keep our focus on Goodman’s sign.
     I witnessed its arrival Saturday — again, again, not in my journalistic capacity, but as a man smoking a cigar while walking a little dog. The sign drew reaction: a zealous spontaneous rally celebrating the glories of Donald Trump and the insulting absurdity of suggesting that a large number of Americans have died of COVID. I watched the commotion, briefly, then left with the conviction that this is going to be a very long six weeks, if not six months, if not six years.
     Tuesday, while I gazed at the helicopter, wondering what it costs to keep that thing in the air, a large, angry man marched up. “Why is the president’s name there?” he demanded. “What’s Trump got to do with this?” I am not given to direct personal confrontation. But the slow pitch of that question just hung there, right over the plate. Why should this guy be the only one allowed to yell? I swung on my heels.
     “If you have to ask,” I said, con brio, “you’ll never know.”

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11 comments:

  1. The Public Forum seems like such a good idea that I wonder if someone hasn't subverted it with Nazi or gang messages.

    john

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  2. Shhh...don't give them ideas. Actually, I believe the Village vets the signs before they go up. Part of the outrage is that a sign as radical as Lee's could go up.

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    1. As much as I agree with the sentiments of the sign, if the Village has (tacitly?) approved it, it is now government endorsed speech, not "constitutionally protected free speech" as advertised. Double Shhh on that one, I guess.

      john

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    2. Sorry, but I don't go along with the concept that squelching a patently offensive idea constitutes "endorsement" of every other idea that gets expressed. That's what conservatives howl every time one of them gets kicked off Twitter or wherever for gutter-level bigotry.

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    3. Unfortunately, that's the law...at least as I see it. I'm no constitutional lawyer -- they were all teacher's pets in law school, but I believe that it's clear that if a government entity picks and chooses what speech can be heard and what not, it will probably be sued for infringement of some nut case's right to voice his or her wild-ass notions of how the world works. And it will probably lose.

      john

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    4. That sign is considered 'radical?'
      Seems kind of mild to me.

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  3. via Wikipedia:
    "James the Less is a figure of early Christianity, one of the Twelve chosen by Jesus."

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    1. Imagine! The guy's a saint -- an apostle, no less, with churches named after him -- and 2,000 years later he's still stuck being called James the Less. What a rip. At least it's not James the Fewer...

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  4. Best pro-Biden sign I've seen yet, but not meant for a front yard. If you put it there, chances are pretty good that someone would torch it. And maybe the house, too. A pickup truck with Trump flags was blown up in a Minnesota suburb, right in the garage. Online, the civil war has already begun.

    It takes a long time to get a Joe sign in the mail...weeks...and then many of them disappear. I nailed mine to the front door. The delay must mean that they're really in demand, which would, of course, be a good...um...sign.


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  5. Was waiting for you to shine your spotlight on this. Right on Northbrook and Barrister Goodman!

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  6. I think it's very respectful that the sign notes the name of our Maximum Leader. He's not shy of publicity, for crying out loud. Being responsible for tens of thousands of deaths is one of the primary features of his reign. What makes the sign so effective, to me, is precisely how innocuous it is. A few simple, inarguable facts, blandly presented. If only one has eyes to see.

    Neil, in the S-T caption, you write that it was defaced. Will that be the end of it, or have remedies been undertaken, if I may ask?

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